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Wednesday, January 17 2018

NFL Predictions 2003: Week 16

SportI finally broke out on top against the spread with a 10-6 record (112-107-5 overall) and cleaned up picking winners at 13-3 (148-76 overall). I continued to stall on the over/under with a 6-9-1 showing (127-89-6 overall) though. The odds makers were 12-3-1 straight up (148-72-4 overall) and 9-6-1 against the number (116-99-9 overall). The under games won the week 8-7 with 1 push leaving under ahead 111-107 for the season with 6 ties.

This week the networks bless us with five nationally televised games. Amazingly, 14 of 16 games have something to do with the playoff picture whether it be a team qualifying or simply the seeding, but only two games will feature a pairing of winning clubs. Both of those will be in domes, with Minnesota hosting Kansas City and St. Louis hosting Cincinnati. Atlanta (3-11) @ Tampa Bay (7-7) pick TB Ė7/under 38

The Bucs need help from a lot of teams to sneak into the playoffs and defend their title. Letís be honest, they are better off simply finishing 9-7 and not embarrassing themselves with a convincing playoff loss. Michael Vick is back, but against Tampa Bay last year he did absolutely nothing. He wonít get any help from dynamic Warrick Dunn who is out for the season, so heíll be running for his life. I know the Bucs are capable of another big defensive performance after squashing Houston last week, and they have just enough offense to slide by. They donít want to look bad on national television, even if the west coast folks will sleep through this one on Saturday morning: Tampa Bay 19, Atlanta 6

Kansas City (12-2) @ Minnesota (8-6) pick MIN +3/over 54

The Chiefs have played the easiest schedule that I can remember. Nine teams on their schedule still have a shot to lose 10 games. The team with the best record would be 9-5 Denver, who they split with but the win (24-23) was much less convincing than the loss (45-27). They pulled out a gutsy 40-34 overtime win in Green Bay, but were stifled 24-19 in Cincinnati. In other words, ignore their gaudy record. The Vikings have a similarly easy schedule with nine of their opponents having 10 loss potential as well. Lately they have been more bad than good. It looked like they were back on track after beating Seattle 34-7 two weeks ago, but a 13-10 loss in Chicago against rookie Rex Grossman set them back to be sure. I know there will be plenty of scoring in this game, and with the Saturday national television atmosphere both teams will bring their best. With the points flowing, I like Minnesotaís defense to make a key interception or two that gives them the edge: Minnesota 31, Kansas City 27

New England (12-2) @ NY Jets (6-8) pick NYJ +3/under 35.5

ESPN celebrates game #200 with what should be a good one. The Jets defense has played pretty well, holding 8 teams to 17 points or less, including their last four opponents in a stretch where they have gone 3-1. They will be looking to grind it out with their running game and stay close, attempting to get the game into the fourth quarter with a chance to pull it out. New England can also play a little defense, and has held 8 teams to 16 points or less including four games where the opponent failed to score a touchdown. I donít like their lack of a running game though. Last week in Jacksonville it was Faulk and Smith combining for 28 carries good for only 73 yards (2.61 average). So they will hope that the 31st ranked New York run defense cures that ill. Iím smelling upset in this game because everyone is so convinced that the Patriots will be the home team throughout the playoffs and Iím not convinced. Never count out Pennington, and after Martinís big game last week his confidence is back: NY Jets 17, New England 16

New Orleans (7-7) @ Jacksonville (4-10) pick NO +2/over 42

This is the kind of game that I always think the Saints canít lose, but then they find a way to blow it. However, they have not lost to a team with a losing record all season (5-0) and have playoff aspirations. They also have plenty of weapons to attack the Jags defense. Deuce is probably going to be the star of choice this week after Brooks connected with Horn for 4 touchdowns last week. Byron Leftwich is going to be a great quarterback in this league, but he is not going to win this game. Even better, this is a meeting of two starting quarterbacks who are black and no one cares. That my folks is progress: New Orleans 23, Jacksonville 20

Washington (5-9) @ Chicago (6-8) pick CHI Ė4/under 35

The Bears are better than a lot of people think, and at home they have been great, having lost only to Green Bay and St. Louis, the latter by 2 points. Their defense has really stepped it up as well, allowing 16 points or less six times over their last eight games. They have also won 3 of 4. The Redskins have been free falling, and in 9 of their past 10 games have given up 20 points or more, which explains a 2-8 record over that span. Tim Hasselbeck is in no position to be leading a team at this point, and star receiver Coles has just announced he has a stress fracture in his foot. They are undermanned. Rex Grossman is poised to win his second consecutive start and be hailed a Chi-town hero, even if he will return to reality next week against Philadelphia: Chicago 24, Washington 9

Baltimore (8-6) @ Cleveland (4-10) pick CLE +3/over 35.5

The Ravens return ďhomeĒ to face the team that replaced them, and they bring an ugly 2-5 road record with only wins in San Diego and Arizona. They also havenít won on the road since October 12, with 4 losses in a row including last week in Oakland, who came in 3-10. Cleveland meanwhile canít protect their home field, with a weak 2-5 record that includes only wins over that same Oakland team and well, Arizona. They have dropped their last two home tilts, but at least their offense has started putting up points, albeit in losing efforts. They dropped a 23-20 decision in Denver last week, but it took overtime to put them down in a game where they had nothing to play for. I have to wonder how much more motivated they will be to knock down their rivals and make up for allowing Jamal Lewis to run for an NFL record 295 yards in their first meeting back in September. Call this a hunch, but some way some how the Bengals are going to win the North and this looks like the way: Cleveland 24, Baltimore 22

Miami (8-6) @ Buffalo (6-8) pick MIA +2/under 34

The Dolphins have mostly starred away from home, sporting a 5-2 record, and have really shut teams down. Their first four opponents all scored just 10 points before Tennessee lit them up for 31. Dallas had 21, but that was a game the Dolphins were well in control of. The problem I guess is that this is the dreaded cold weather game for a warm weather team and everyone cites that as the reason Buffalo will walk away with a win. The Bills have been playing pretty well on the defensive side of the ball, and had a string of five games in a row allowing 17 points or less snapped last week in a 28-26 loss to Tennessee. I feel like this will be a defensive struggle to be sure, and more or less youíve got Henry pounding it out for the Bills and Williams doing the same for Miami. The last time they met here, Ricky put up 228 rushing and they lost. This time he will put up much less, but they will find a way to score the ďupsetĒ win: Miami 16, Buffalo 13

Tennessee (10-4) @ Houston (5-9) pick TEN -6.5/under 40.5

Itís the second half of returning home week as the Titans visit the city they used to call home and face the team that replaced them. David Carr should be back at the helm, but it hardly matters. Tennesseeís defense is bound to get back on track sooner or later after giving up 24 points or better four weeks in a row (2-2 record) and six times for the season. Fortunately for them, 11 times they have scored 25 points or more this season including a six game string of 30 points or better. The moral of the story here is that the Titans want to win this game ugly. They would rather not risk an injury to Steve McNair so they will rely heavily on the running game to keep him from dropping back to pass very often. The Texans without Carr have scored a total of just 3 points in their last two games and have gone 10 consecutive quarters without a touchdown. I canít see them rising up to stun a team staring at a playoff clinching win, although truth be told the Titans can afford to lose this game because they wonít win their division regardless and are a home win over the mediocre Bucs from locking up the higher wild card: Tennessee 23, Houston 13

Detroit (0-7) @ Carolina (9-5) pick CAR Ė9/over 37

The Lions are one of three teams trying to avoid 0-8 road marks for the season, but they are the only ones attempting to stay out of the record books with their NFL worst 24th consecutive road loss. It will be difficult, even as the Panthers are mysteriously talking about resting players such as star running back Stephen Davis. Someone needs to tell them that they arenít yet locked into the #3 seed and going to the Meadowlands (their finale) can be an unpleasant experience in late December. The hard part for the Lions on the road is scoring. They havenít put up over 17 points away from home, and even at home their best showings are 22, 23 and 42 with a win to show for each game. The Panthers havenít been all that great on defense though, and have yielded 20 points seven times this season and 17 or more in nine of their past ten. Iím going to say that they change their mind about resting starters and realize that losing 20-14 in Atlanta and beating Arizona 20-17 is not a way to build momentum towards a playoff spot. They need a resounding win badly after earning 7 wins by a field goal or less and three of those in overtime. I think they break loose: Carolina 28, Detroit 10

NY Giants (4-10) @ Dallas (9-5) pick DAL Ė10.5/under 36

The last thing you want to do at the end of the season is render your coach a lame duck, but thatís just what New York did. Now they have a group of key injured offensive players taking on a Dallas defense fresh off a shutout win. It was also their fifth game allowing 7 points or less, and I can assure you theyíll be looking to add one to that number here. The Cowboys want to wrap up the most unlikely playoff spot in years without waiting for a game in New Orleans against the chasing Saints next week. Troy Hambrick got loose last week, earning some much needed confidence and Quincy Carter will have plenty of success against a beaten up Giants secondary: Dallas 24, NY Giants 7

Cincinnati (8-6) @ St. Louis (11-3) pick STL Ė6.5/under 53

The Rams will be looking to play the Grinch in this game. They are dominant on their home field, with 5 of their 7 wins coming by 10+ points. Starting quarterback Marc Bulger has never lost at home, and his club has only two showings where they failed to hit 23 points. One was the opening 23-13 loss to the Giants when he was on the bench. The Bengals have had similar offensive success lately with 5 of their past 6 games producing 24 points or more. The trouble is that their defense has given up 79 points over the past two games, which is not a good sign. Everyone is rooting for Cincinnati, but the Rams realize that losing this game would likely cost them home field throughout. They want that advantage: St. Louis 31, Cincinnati 20

San Diego (3-11) @ Pittsburgh (5-9) pick PIT Ė5.5/under 41

Was it that long ago that these Chargers came into Pittsburgh and rode Seau to an upset win in the AFC Championship game? Yeah, I guess it was. I donít think anyone remains from that meeting and at least the Steelers have declared they are not mailing in the rest of their schedule. I donít think any team wants the stigma of losing 10 games. The Chargers have been pretty pesky of late as well, losing 34-27 to Cincinnati and 28-24 to Kansas City, a pair of teams in the hunt. They matched blows with Green Bay much of last week before dropping a 38-21 decision. Their biggest weapon has been Tomlinson but not straight up rushing, mostly out of the backfield. He will be utilized the same way this week against the stingy Steelers run defense. Brees might have some success against the Pittsburgh secondary, but Boston needs to wake up because his numbers have tailed off in recent weeks. Bettis will be motivated as he pushes his way up the NFLís all-time rushing list and this might be his swan song for the home folks. I think the Chargers might put up a fight early, but they will fall behind and fold: Pittsburgh 26, San Diego 12

San Francisco (6-8) @ Philadelphia (11-3) pick PHI Ė7/under 42

The 49ers are trying to avoid a winless road mark, but it wonít be easy against a team trying to avoid going on the road in the playoffs and riding a nine game winning streak. They have also turned it up a notch offensively with a 32.0 scoring average during the last four weeks. I donít see how a team like San Francisco can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and knock off a superior club in their stadium, but stranger things have happened. The Eagles are killing teams with their three-headed backfield, dumping short passes to Westbrook, Staley and Buckhalter all day long. Their steady diet of short gains will more than offset any big plays that Garcia can put up deep to Owens: Philadelphia 21, San Francisco 13

Arizona (3-11) @ Seattle (8-6) pick STL Ė13.5/under 44

Okay here weíve got a team that has been awful while going 0-7 on the road against a team with a sterling 7-0 home mark that canít win on the road. To make it worse, in the first meeting under what should have been ideal circumstances for the Cards it was a 38-0 win for Seattle. The last 3 road games for Arizona have produced losses by an aggregate 122-23 score. Yes math students thatís an average of 41-8 when rounded off. Seattle needs this game to stay in the race and with crummy weather a possibility I canít see Arizona turning in anything resembling effort: Seattle 31, Arizona 7

Denver (9-5) @ Indianapolis (11-3) pick IND -5.5/over 47

Both teams need this game and the ESPN audience should get a good whether or not Clinton Portis answers the bell. The Broncos have worked their way into the race with a 4-1 mark after their late bye week, marred only by an inexplicable 19-10 home loss to Chicago. The Pats have also gone 4-1 over that stretch, with only a tough 38-34 loss to New England that looks like it could cost them in playoff seeding. Peyton Manning is quite simply a much better quarterback than Jake Plummer is, and while both teams will probably have success running the ball I canít help but go with the more talented signal caller. Believe me though, Denver will not go quietly in this game: Indianapolis 28, Denver 22

Green Bay (8-6) @ Oakland (4-10) pick GB Ė5/under 44.5

Favre might be coming back next year, but I guarantee this will be his last trip to Oakland. He has led his team to wins the last 5 times they have played on Sunday. Itís those Thursday and Monday games that havenít gone so well lately. They put up just 14 points while losing to Philadelphia on MNF and Detroit on Thanksgiving. It will take more than that to beat the Raiders in their house where they have played very well all season long. Only in a 22-8 loss to Denver were they out of it at the very end, and last week they put a dent in Baltimoreís playoff plans with a 20-12 win. I think Favre will protect the football, which will help. Also, Oaklandís offensive line is trashed and you have to know that the Packers will be blitzing Rick Mirer. Heck, this could be the biggest NFL start for Mirer. He was very inaccurate last week, and this time it will cost him with interceptions: Green Bay 27, Oakland 17

NFL Predictions 2003: Week 16 | 3 comments | Create New Account
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NFL Predictions 2003: Week 16
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